Coaching Tip - February 2023

Keep it simple to help improve your tennis game

Tennis players often think too much about technique, footwork and the score when they are playing a competitive match. This often produces a flood of unforced errors which then leads to a self doubt mentality and results in the player losing the match.

I have put together a few tips which can be developed at practice and used during your matches to help
improve your game and get you through the tough times during matches.

• The use of the continental or hammer grip is vital when serving so get used to this grip during practice so that you can use this grip in matches as well.
• During practice sessions set up targets (hoops for beginners or cones and/or ball cans for more advanced players) in the corners of the service box and out wide to give you a focus when serving.
This will help you direct your serve and develop serving consistency.
• When playing matches visualise that the targets are in place and focus on directing your serves at these imaginary targets so that you can improve your match serve.

Smashes (Overheads)
• The continental or hammer grip is essential.
• The overhead or smashing motion is similar to the serve so the player should move into a sideways or serving stance (not front on) with the non racquet arm pointing to the ball prior to making contact with the ball.
• The take back of the racquet is abbreviated so that it is taken up and back into the loaded or throwing
position because the player usually has less time to prepare for hitting the overhead.
• Many players find that it is easier to hit the over head after the ball bounces but often during a rally there is no choice so select the right (first) option.
• Targets can be used during practice to help improve the direction and consistency of your overhead.
• Focus on the imaginary targets during matches.

• The grip for both the forehand and backhand volley is the continental or hammer grip as per the serve and the overhead strokes.
• This grip will ensure that the racquet face is open so that a slicing motion is imparted on the ball.
• The racquet is taken to the side by turning the shoulders so that the racquet does not go back past your back shoulder.
• There is no backswing or follow through on the volley
• During practice targets can also be used for the direction and placement of volleys
• Players can also develop their volley skills by standing on opposite sides of the net
and then rally by volleying to each other.
• During your match expect every ball to come to you and focus on hitting your volley to the imaginary targets.

Tennis Strategy ( Match Play)
• Players must keep the ball in play at all costs so that you can improve your consistency.
Defend the deep balls to put pressure on your opponent and then attack the short balls.
• Just a reminder that 80% of the points played during matches are decided by mistakes or errors.
Targets can be used at practice sessions so that players can improve their hitting consistency and accuracy during both practice and matches.
• These skills will lift your confidence and help overcome self doubt so that you develop a mental toughness which plays an integral part in winning tough, close matches.

• Good footwork is essential for all players to develop their skills and progress to playing at a higher level.
• Footwork starts with the split step when stopping and getting balanced just prior to your opponent hitting the ball through the rally when moving your feet to help you move into the correct position to hit the ball.
This applies when hitting forehands, backhands, volleys, smashes and even serves.
• When moving your feet keep it simple so that you don’t cross over your feet and upset your balance
and preparation for the shot at hand.
• Practice all the aspects of footwork during your training sessions so that it becomes a natural part of your tennis game

There are many Tennis coaching websites that go into more detail about footwork so Google Tennis footwork if would like to find some more in depth information.

When playing matches or tournaments players often have too many thoughts going through or staying in their minds so try to keep it simple so that things can happen naturally (or without thinking).

I hope that you can take note of the simplified hints outlined above so that you can enjoy your matches and play to your ability so that you can get the results that you deserve.

Tennis the game of a lifetime

Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful hints in regard to keeping tennis simple.

Coach Steve